Jittery staffers at Hillary Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters have gone into full panic mode, in the wake of five straight landslide losses to Bernie Sanders and the candidate’s plummeting numbers in three national polls.
“This was the worst week so far in the campaign,” said a Democratic party insider, “and everybody is blaming everybody else for the setbacks. Bill Clinton called (campaign chairman) John Podesta (once his White House Chief of Staff) and screamed, ‘Those snotty-nosed kids over there are blowing this thing because nobody is listening to me.’”
By “snotty-nosed kids”, the former president, 69, is referring to campaign manager Robby Mook, 36; press secretary Brian Fallon, 35; and campaign vice chairwoman Huma Abedin, 39, who in actuality wields the most power of anyone in the organization by virtue of her status as Mrs. Clinton’s soulmate and alter ego since 1996.
Former president Clinton believes his wife made a mistake in wrapping herself so tightly in the mantle of Barack Obama just before the Southern primaries. He warned her not to do it and blames her recent crushing defeats on that miscalculation. Mrs. Clinton felt it was a strategy she had to employ, in that it energized her base in the Southern states. Nonetheless, astute observers remember that her longtime lackey Sid Blumenthal regularly sent emails to her when she was Secretary of State that ridiculed and insulted President Obama, and instead of remonstrating, Hillary forwarded them to Huma.
Last week, as the primaries and caucuses moved west and voters paid more attention to what they call “her lack of authenticity”, she got creamed. Mrs. Clinton received only 18% of the Democratic vote in Alaska; 20% in Utah; 21% in Idaho; 27% in Washington state; and 30% in Hawaii. Sanders got all the rest, a staggering series of victories, which was underplayed by the mainstream media, who want the Clintons to have a third term.
Also last week, when Mr. Clinton made a campaign speech characterizing the Obama administration as “the awful legacy of the last eight years”, the blowback against him from the Brooklyn politburo was white hot. The insider source tells us, “After Podesta and Mook told him to stop trashing Obama, President Clinton was furious and cancelled two campaign appearances the following day.”
At last report, Bill is still pouting. But he is right about history: since FDR’s time, no party has won three consecutive presidential terms, with the exception of George H.W. Bush. By positioning herself as a continuation of Obama, Hillary has alienated the army of 2016 voters who have had enough of corrupt and incompetent federal bureaucrats, and want a fresh face to take charge and kick them out.
Back in Brooklyn, the campaign organization is de facto divided into two factions, informally known as “Bill’s crew” and “Huma’s crew” and the tension between them is palpable. Although the candidate does not want to alienate her husband/business partner because she needs him, her primary confidence and trust rests, we are told, in Ms. Abedin, with whom she has a deeper and more fulfilling relationship.
It is not unusual for ambitious sycophants to vie for the ear of presidential candidates (in fact, they usually encourage rivalries among staffers), but the current schism among Hillary’s troopers is significant. Mr. Podesta, the adult in the room, is trying to stay neutral between the opposing Bill and Huma factions, but he is losing patience. Every day, Mr. Clinton keeps calling calling calling with new demands and strategies, and his former employee can hardly refuse to take his calls.
Another frustration for the former president is that he can’t get through on the telephone to his wife, the candidate, without going through Ms. Abedin, who carries the cell phone and screens all calls. When Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin are traveling, they always share a suite, which they lock from the inside to bar the Secret Service. If Hillary is not in the mood to listen to her husband kvetching about problems in the campaign, she instructs Huma to tell Bill she is sleeping and cannot be disturbed. Naturally, this sends the ex-president into paroxysms of rage.
There are two other factors in play here. The Clintons are not seriously worried that she will go to the convention with fewer pledged delegates than the 74-year-old left-wing curmudgeon and the nomination will be awarded to Sanders. What they are concerned about is that the latest national polls show her popularity declining so rapidly that the powers-that-be, i.e. the “superdelegates”, will decide to substitute a Biden or a Warren or someone else who is not so polarizing and abrasive.
And the new numbers are indeed concerning. The NY Times/CBS poll says that enthusiasm for her candidacy among Democrat voters versus that of Sanders has gone down a net 17 points in the past month. Her favorability rating among all voters is now the lowest for any Democrat front-runner in the history of the poll—31% favorable and 52% unfavorable. Forty percent of Democrat primary voters told exit pollsters they think Hillary is dishonest and a liar. Among independent primary voters, 65 percent think she is dishonest and a liar.
The new Bloomberg poll says Sanders has passed her nationally as the candidate that Democrats would most like to see as the next president. And the recent NY Times, CNN, and Bloomberg polls all show Bernie running stronger than Hillary versus the three remaining Republican candidates (e.g., he beats Kasich by six points, she loses by six points). Lest we forget, twelve months ago nobody outside of Vermont had ever heard of Bernie Sanders, and Hillary has been in our faces for a quarter of a century.
The other factor which no one is addressing is what role Bill Clinton will arrogate for himself in a Hillary administration. He has told associates he plans to have his office in the West Wing, the center of gravity. (“The East Wing is for arranging flowers and planning menus”, he harumphed.) Even more problematical is that Bill will almost certainly insist on attending meetings of the National Security Council and of the Cabinet. (As he put it, “Rosalynn Carter sat in on Cabinet meetings—and they think they could keep me out?”) Since as a former two-term president he is barred by the Constitution from being a de jure president and exercising its powers, will his insistence on helping formulate policy violate the provisions of the 22d Amendment? (That will be a nice case for the Supreme Court to decide, will it not?) In any event, Bill has made clear that he has no objections to Huma’s undertaking the ceremonial duties of an unofficial First Spouse. (“Let Huma pick the curtains; I’ll worry about Syria.”)
ORB SAYS: This is going to be such fun, breaking new ground. When the Clintons promised us “two for the price of one”, for once they were telling the truth.
Bill Clinton can’t get Hillary on the phone
by Richard Johnson
Bill Clinton is upset his wife’s campaign team doesn’t follow his advice — and because he often can’t even get Hillary on the phone.
“Those snotty-nosed kids over there are blowing this thing because nobody is listening to me,” Bill told campaign chairman John Podesta, according to OrbMagazine.
The former president has not only clashed over policy with Hillary’s closest adviser, Huma Abedin, he’s also said to be furious he can’t phone his wife without going through Abedin, who carries Hillary’s cellphone and screens all her calls.
“When Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin are traveling, they always share a suite, which they lock from the inside to bar the Secret Service,” Orb reports.
“If Hillary is not in the mood to listen to her husband kvetching about problems in the campaign, she instructs Huma to tell Bill she is sleeping and cannot be disturbed. Naturally, this sends the ex-president into paroxysms of rage.”